A persona is a research-based profile of an archetypal customer that represents needs of many. Personas work for B2B because they bring focus, empathy, and consensus to your campaigns. When designing a campaign, for example, the tendency is to be broad about what you are going after, but a bigger audience + more targets = less focus. By creating a persona based marketing strategy, you can be more targeted and truly understand who your buyer is. Create a story about who that person is, what his or her lifestyle is like, what are the pain points?
At Marketo, one of our personas is “Molly the Marketer”. By understanding who she is and what makes her tick, we can ask questions–what do I say to her? What messages will resonate? What channels should I use? Because you are creating a more personal profile, you can write content and create marketing programs that comes from an emotional place. You know what they like, as if they are your best friend. Personas bring more of a human touch to your marketing.
How do you start?
To develop your personas you need to determine what their goals and attitudes are. You have to ask yourself, what do you they know? What do they respond to? What are their behaviors? Do qualitative research to gather this knowledge.
How do you get this information?
Interviews! Once you determine your personas, you can schedule user interviews that last about 20 minutes. Make sure whoever is conducting the interview knows what to focus on and what to look for. Your research can be as thorough as you want. Some companies even hire trained anthropologists to watch what people do. The more detailed your personas are, the better your marketing can be. They should feel real, like you have talked to that person.
Make sure to leverage your sales team as well. They are on the front lines talking to customers everyday. Go on an in person sales call or sit in on the phone. And make sure you collaborate with sales throughout your persona development process.
How do I create the personas?
Once you have gathered all of your data and research, start developing unique segments that group goals (what do they want to accomplish), behaviors (what they do), and attitudes (knowledge, perception) into unique segments. The ideal number of personas for a company would be four. A complicated company may have up to six personas, but more may lead to a lack of focus. You know you’ve succeeded if the personas are:
- Distinct from each other
- Cover the market
- Feel real (I’ve talked to that person!)
- Easy to explain
From there, work to make each persona feel like a real person. Create dossiers on each one, hang posters or cutouts around the office. You can even write a blog for each persona and make it come to life even more. Additionally, make sure you socialize your personas throughout your organization to drive consensus. Your end goal should be to culturally have the company adopt the concept of talking about these personas as real people.